Stories of impact
Parvathy Krishnan: Looking back and moving forward
"Last year taught me the value of collaboration and hard work. It was a great reminder that when people come together and are willing to invest in something, anything is possible"
Developing a Data & Digital Maturity framework for the IFRC
ORTEC and 510 developed a framework to identify what Digital Maturity looks like across multiple levels. This framework has been adopted in the IFRC’s Digital Transformation strategy to offer a vocabulary of Digital Transformation in multiple contexts and provide a basis to track the process.
Interview with our our affiliate: Luk van Wassenhove
Emeritus professor Luk Van Wassenhove is known for his work on data analysis in the field of humanitarian aid, but his intentions were highly practical at first. “It was not my objective to do good. It was a great opportunity for me to learn. Still, my research groups have a very beneficial impact.” These research groups have ushered in improvements to relief supply chains in Africa, for example, but have also helped address sustainability issues. Van Wassenhove, who has not lost his interest in the world of commercial enterprise, insists that companies and NGOs have a lot to teach each other. “Working on sustainability and humanitarian issues has allowed me to get into new, challenging supply chain issues.”
Impact story from our partner: 510 an initiative from the Dutch Red Cross
Providing aid and relief after a humanitarian disaster is a well-established practice and the Red Cross is one of the biggest organizations of its kind. But what if you could provide aid before disaster strikes? You could prevent a lot of unnecessary suffering and save a significant sum of money in the process. That’s what 510, founded by Maarten van der Veen and named after the 510 million square kilometers that make up the earth’s surface, does for the Red Cross, by using data science to provide insight to victims, responders and governments. By doing so, 510 does not only contribute to preparing for emergencies, but also to better decisions. “We help the Red Cross with data,” Van der Veen explains, “Their volunteers do the work.”
Impact story from our peer: Zero Hunger Lab
Hein Fleuren is not only professor of Business Analytics at Tilburg University, but also the scientific director of the university’s Zero Hunger Lab, an initiative that strives to harness data science to contribute to global food security. Zero Hunger Lab was founded in order to optimize emergency response at the World Food Program, but now applies data science to combat hunger in the broadest sense possible. With unmitigated success. “My dream would be to have more of these labs for issues such as water, energy and deforestation. With Zero Hunger Lab, we have shown that our field can make a valuable contribution.”
Interviewing Prof. Bertsimas from MIT: Teaching our methods and successes can make a huge difference
Dimitris Bertsimas, professor in Business Analytics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is one of the founders of Analytics for a Better World and a ‘serial entrepreneur’. “Analytics has had an increasing influence on the commercial sector: from energy and finance to defence and has attracted a lot of talent in the process. The financial incentives drawing people to the non-profit sector are less alluring, which is why there’s a lot of low-hanging fruit to be picked”. And Bertsimas has already helped several non-profits increase their operational efficiency through his various companies. “Fasten your seatbelts. There is a lot of things to do.”
Interview with our founder Dick den Hertog: Analytics for a Better World
As professor of Operations Research, Dick den Hertog spends his days on applied research with significant social impact, and the efforts of this two-time winner of the prestigious Franz Edelman have certainly been successful. After winning his first award on optimizing dike height in the Netherlands, he repeated the feat with his research for optimizing food chains for the UN’s World Food Program with Tilburg’s Zero Hunger Lab. Den Hertog is a fierce proponent of expanding analytics beyond the realm of business. “What is so remarkable about our field is that you can tackle highly diverse questions with mathematically identical models.”
Talking with our Managing Director: creating impact through a sustainable ecosystem and business model that works for all stakeholders
In 2021, two organizations found each other in their shared desire to contribute to a better world. ORTEC wanted to make a positive contribution to society to celebrate its 40th anniversary, while University of Amsterdam sought to flesh out Analytics for a Better World. Out of their combined knowledge and experience sprang an autonomous institute called Analytics for a Better World (ABW), founded by Amsterdam University, ORTEC and Dimitris Bertsimas of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Robert Monné, Director of ABW: “University of Amsterdam and ORTEC both made the commitment to grant the institute a serious startup budget for the next three years to help run the organization and launch projects. We’re a non-profit, so any profit we do manage to make is invested right back into the institute to help further our mission.”
Story from our founders: Analytics will enable NGOs to help many more people
Dick den Hertog, professor of Operations Research, Marc Salomon, dean of the Amsterdam Business School - part of the University of Amsterdam - and Michael van Duijn CEO and managing director at ORTEC, are convinced: the new institute Analytics for a Better World (ABW) will enable humanitarian aid organizations to help even more people by scaling up the use of analytics.